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Summer Movie Preview

By Staff | May 26, 2010

The sunny summer tentpole, adventure 3D mania for 2010 has just romped their first gallops from the starting gate. Instead of a superhero/franchise June, July and August filled with heroes and sequels, the trend for this year appears family friendly. In addition, the sheer number of competing releases appears to be less than 2008 and 2009. It’s like the studios have caught on — too many new films in one weekend, especially geared to similar audience demographics, generally, split the market.

• GET HIM TO THE GREEK: Every college student wants an impressive internship and then to impress their employer. Jonah Hill lands a coveted job with a music company but his mission is arduous — deliver diva-esque and attention deficit disorder suffering rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) to a contracted performance at L.A.’s Greek Theater. Warning: Make way for potty mouths and sordid situations since it’s from Judd (“Knocked Up,” “Funny People,” “40 Year Old Virgin”) Apatow, but he’s producing (a.k.a. “Forgetting Sarah Marshall), not at the director’s helm. Pre-screenings have been occurring at universities and some buzz suggests another “Superbad” or “Hangover” in the wings as raunchy sleeper comedy of the summer. 

• KILLERS: Back in 2005 Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie played a married couple who were undercover assassins. The flick picked up some second-tier award nominations for “best action/thriller” and, of course, the premise eventually yielded Brad and Angelina assigned to waste each other, or should I say, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Five years later, Jen (Katherine Heigl) and Spencer (Ashton Kutcher) have enjoyed nearly perfect marital bliss, except unknown to her, her hubby was an assassin and he’s now a target. Run, Jen, Run and learn to drive fast and furious.

• MARMADUKE: No 3D or blitzing special effects, just a lovable Great Dane and his family, the Winslow’s, moving into a new home. Owen Wilson is the beloved dog’s voice. Has a scene of canines dancing to music in a (dog?) park. Kids will be happy, but adults could be wishing they were out scooping instead. If you like the comic strip and the humor of “Marley & Me,” you might be pleased.

• THE A TEAM: Back in the mid-‘80s, producer Stephen (“Greatest American Hero,” “Hardcastle and McCormick”, “Hunter”) J. Cannell introduced a team of Vietnam vets on the run after being framed for bank robbery. They become good-guy vigilantes who took on mercenary jobs. The TV series starred George Peppard and Dwight Schultz, but flashback lovers will remember — Mr. T. (B.A. Baracus) — as the lynchpin of the show. For the big screen reinvention, the team has an updated premise: They are former Iraq War Special Forces vets trying to clear their name. Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson has the offshoot of the  “Mr. T” role. Jessica Biel plays an ex-lover assigned to round them up and give them a “J” for jailed.

• THE KARATE KID: How to take care of school bullies? Learn karate from a master. The premise is similar to the 1984 original, except 12-year-old Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) and his mom move from Detroit to Beijing. The lad will find a coach in the form of Jackie Chan. Incidentally, some buzz from Chan hints that the title should be “Kung Fu Kid” due to the style of martial arts featured.

• TOY STORE III 3D: What would be worse than landing unwanted at the Smithsonian? (I know, wrong franchise). But, Buzz, Woody and those in this toy-box are dumped at a day care center after their former owner, Andy, heads off to an institution of higher learning (and playing with things other than toys). Hmm, maybe that would be an interesting spin-off… Buzz goes to find Andy and lands in a sorority.

• JONAH HEX: Call it a comic book version of the famed “Wild Wild West” TV series, except you add a touch of a Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western with the supernatural darkness of “Hellboy.” The plot: A scarred bounty hunter tracks down a voodoo merchant intent on sending an army of undead to liberate the South. Megan Fox, Josh Brolin, John Malkovich are the stars. But the last three movies by the pair who penned the screenplay — “Gamer,” “Pathology,” “Crank: High Voltage” — were not in contention for the weekend box office derby.

• GROWN UPS: What happens when you put Adam Sandler and Chris Rock at a “Big Chill” reunion to honor a mutual friend who passed away? Rob Schneider and David Spade join them. The dudes gather after their former basketball coach has soared to the Hall of Fame in the Sky.

• KNIGHT AND DAY: Tom Cruise. Nearly July 4th  holiday weekend. Agent kicks butt. Classified as “Mission Impossible” meets “Tropic Thunder,” Cruise is saving the world (again) with Cameron (“Vanilla Sky”) Diaz at his side for comedic and visual attentiveness.

• TWILIGHT/NEW MOON TRIPLE  FANGS: Can’t get enough of Bella, Edward and Jacob? Well, one night only, I’m told, catch “Twilight” and “New Moon” together on the big screen then say until 12:01 a.m. and be the first to watch “Eclipse.”

• TWILIGHT SAGA ECLIPSE: Now, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) has choices on her plate — vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) wants to marry her and werewolf Jack Black (Taylor Lautner) has fallen in love with her also. You know, let’s substitute a little… a governess named Victoria Winters falls for Barnabus while Quentin (David Selby) tries to lure Winter’s young wards. Extra points for naming the series. Triple extra points for having watch any episode of the “soap.” 

• LAST AIRBENDER 3D: M. Night Shyamalan has had a ‘you love him, you love him not’ career bringing horror/fantasies to life, beginning with “The Sixth Sense” and followed by “Unbreakable,” “Signs,” “The Village,” “Lady in the Water” and “The Happening.” There’s another side to him: He wrote the screenplay for 1999’s “Stuart Little.” At the risk of this sounding a little on the franchise launching side, this story has Aang, an Avatar successor, who has to grow up and stop the Fire Nation from taking over the Earth, Water and Air nations. So, this time, it’s family friendly fantasy for the man who brought ‘boo’ back to theatres with his Japanese horror re-makes.

• PREDATORS:  Yes, Hollywood has another “reimagining,” “reboot” or “remake” on its calendar. Elite hunters hunted by alien race. It also ignores the “Alien vs. Predator” series.  But you won’t find Arnold Schwarzenegger anywhere around. He played the hero in the 1987 flick that featured Carl Weathers and Jesse Ventura.

• DESPICABLE ME: This one’s for the family — a second string supervillain (voice Steve Carell) plans to steal the moon but three orphan girls topple into his life to potentially scuttle the moon-napping.

JULY  16
• INCEPTION: The imagery of  teasers are positively amazing, so anticipate a big opening for Leonardo DiCaprio’s apparent science-fiction piece about stealing thoughts from inside your head.  Christopher (“Dark Knight”) Nolan reunites with the crew from the Batman success for this architecture of the mind, futuristic corporate secrets thriller.

• SORCERER’S APPRENTICE: You’ll remember the title from the iconic Disney animated “Fantasia.” But, here Jerry Bruckheimer pairs Nicholas (“National Treasure”) Cage with a young dude (Jay Baruchel) who’s kinda of a rebellion-minded Harry Potter.

• DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS:  Jay Roach has directed “Meet the Parents,” “Meet the Fockers” and a couple of “Austin Powers” adventures, so now he’s lampooning the corporate comradely of employees getting together after work. Seems Paul Rudd (a rising exec) has the perfect guest for his boss’ monthly ‘dinner for idiots’  — an IRS agent played by Steve Carell.

• SALT: Does Angelina Jolie look back at a burning city and turn to a pillar of salt? No, she’s a CIA lady named Evelyn Salt who’s accused of shifting her national loyalty by a Russian. So, the long legged lady will be running for her career (in the CIA) and live to find out who accused her of spying.

• RAMONA AND BEEZUS:  Another kiddie delight, this one free of special effects magic: Ramona (Joey King) always gets into trouble and this time she has brought her kindergarten class over for a party. And, she has yet to tell mom about it.

• CATS AND DOGS REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE:  Dogs and cats join forces to expel a sinister feline spy in the midst.

• LITTLE FOCKERS: After “Meeting the Parents” and “Meeting the Fockers,” Ben Stiller (as Gaylord Focker) and his wife (Teri Polo) have their issues raising five-year-old twins. Robert DeNiro’s on board too along with Harvey Keitel, Jessica Alba and Laura Dern. Don’t be disappointed, though, this may be moving to Santa and Snow time, depending upon whose release chart you gauge.

• BEASTLY:  Like its title, well, it’s a new spin on finding someone who loves you as a horrible looking beast. Mary-Kate Olson has cursed Alex Pettyfer who has to walk through Brooklyn searching for someone who will love him … scar faced and all.

AUG. 6
• THE OTHER GUYS: Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg team with director Adam (“Anchorman,” “Talladega Nights,” “Step Brothers”) McKay playing a couple of misaligned New York city detectives. Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson and Michael Keaton are on board for what might be a case for the no-name investigators to solve a crime that no other law enforcement officer wants to get involved.

• STEP UP 3D: It’s off to Paris for the dance troupe, but Moose (Adam Sevani) misses the plane and learns about the city’s underground dancing culture.

AUG. 13
• EAT, PRAY, LOVE: It will have been nearly three months since “Sex and the City II” brought out the chicks to the flicks, so the ladies will likely grab their ‘bbf’ and pluck down their dollars to watch Julia Roberts globetrotting to find herself.

• THE EXPENDABLES: Sylvester Stallone, other than a boxer named Rocky, has played so many mercenary vigilante fighters that, well, thumping a South American dictator, despite Jet Li, might have drawn more interest with a roman numeral after the title (i.e. Rambo, infinity). 

• SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD:  You can identify with Scott (Michael Cera). You’ve found the perfect girl (or guy) but they have lots of ex-baggage. Here, to win the heart of his new flame (Mary Winstead), he has to (like in the fairy tales) defeat seven ex-bf’s to call her his girl.

AUG. 20
• LOTTERY TICKET: Imagine, it’s a holiday weekend and you have a $370 million dollar lottery ticket in your possession. How do you keep a straight face so your friends and enemies won’t steal it?

• TAKERS: Matt Dillon can foil bank robbers who have plans to run with a $20 million payday. But it seems the bad guys are already in or about to be sent to prison, i.e. T.I. and Chris Rock.

• NANNY MCPHEE RETURNS: Emma Thompson has a new nanny assignment — helping a mom run the family farm while her hubby is off fighting a war.

AUG. 27

• GOING THE DISTANCE: No, it’s not a running marathon sport film, but it’s about two lovers (Drew Barrymore and Justin Long) who fly back and forth between Chicago and L.A. attempting to keep their long distance romance perking … and avoid airport dramatics.

• PIRANHA 3D:  Piranhas escape from Lake Victoria following a tremor. The original was forgettable; let’s hope the 3D improves. Anything will be better than the original.

• LAST EXORCISM: This is a low-budget horror/thriller as a evangelical minister (Patrick Fabian) lets a documentary crew (think “Paranormal Activity”) film his battle with Satan himself.

SEPT. 1/3
• THE AMERICAN: This must be the summer /fall for assassins. George Clooney’s a hired killer in Italy to complete one last “wasting” before he hangs up his weapons and scope.

• MACHETE: Robert Rodriguez in the director’s chair with knife-wielding Danny Trejo brutally taking revenge on people who crossed him. A spin-off from “Planet Terror” that gets the jump on Halloween slashers, such as the 3D Saw that awaits.

SEPT 8/10
• WARRIOR: A mixed martial arts competition filmed mostly in Pittsburgh starring Nick Nolte and Tom Hardy. The aging Nolte plays a recovering alcoholic and former MMA coach drafted to whip his son into condition for a tournament. However, Tom’s estranged brother has been struggling as a schoolteacher to make ends meet. A former MMA fighter himself, he enters a tournament with a large purse. Yes, the two brothers will find themselves battling each other on the mat as well as their hearts and souls.

Contact Tony at trutherford@graffitiwv.com